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Security forces arrest a protester at the toll plaza on Thursday. Security forces arrest a protester at the toll plaza on Thursday.

Baja governor keeps the heat on against feds over disputed toll plaza

Calls for transport minister's resignation over 'unforgivable abuse'

Baja California Governor Jaime Bonilla Valdez continues his battle with the federal government over a toll plaza and is calling for President López Obrador to intervene.

On Tuesday, Bonilla issued a decree wresting control of the toll booths on the Playas de Tijuana-Rosarito highway from the federal government and announced that the state was taking over and that tolls would no longer be collected. 

Baja California Government Secretary Amador Rodríguez Lozano declared on Wednesday that Bonilla’s decree favors the safety of Baja’s citizens over “the collection of money to defray the expenses of the federal government. The option is very clear, to be in favor of citizens,” he said, noting that the governor’s resolve was firm and that tolls would not be reinstated.

“We care about the public. There are others who are not from here and who have only been interested in taking money to take it to Mexico City. We are not interested in that; we believe that the governor’s decree is based on law,” Rodríguez said.

Bonilla’s coup was short-lived, however. Just after 3 a.m. on Thursday soldiers and members of the National Guard moved in and returned federal employees to their posts, in what Bonilla described as a “gangster” move. 

The Federal Highways and Bridges Agency (Capufe), which is in charge of the toll plaza, called Bonilla’s decree “illicit,” and accused him of violating federal laws and the constitution. 

Although he could be facing legal action and fines, Bonilla continued his toll booth battle on Thursday, calling for the resignation of the of Communications and Transportation Minister Javier Jiménez Espriú if the toll booths are not swiftly returned to Bonilla’s control 

“I told (federal Security Minister) Alfonso Durazo that … if they do not do something quickly the president should ask for the resignation of the minister of communications because this is unforgivable abuse,” Bonilla said. “Here, Baja California will never forgive you.” 

Yesterday afternoon groups of activists gathered at the toll plaza in support of the governor, and three arrests were made. 

Tolls on the 27-kilometer stretch of highway are 39 pesos for passenger vehicles, around US $1.73, and affect around 12,000 residents of the area on a daily basis, the governor said.

Source: Reforma (sp), La Jornada (sp)

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